Soldiers pray during a candlelight prayer service in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, in celebration of Christmas 2010.
Our military spend their holidays wherever their country needs them — it could be among family at a comfortable ‘stateside’ base or post or it could be dodging bullets and IEDs at some remote outpost in some forsaken place anywhere in the world.
One thing you can count on, however, is that these brave men and women — regardless of their own hardships or financial conditions — will do everything in their power to see that their even less fortunate fellow service members, and others, experience some joy during the holidays, whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
Here are some images this Christmas.
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joshua Palochak, 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, likes to give back to his community in his own way. He has programmed approximately 50,000 Christmas lights to sync up with the music played by a local radio station to encourage donations to Toys for Tots. Here, he waits to hand toys to two of the U.S. Marine Corps Marines organizing the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation drive in Tucson, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Moore)
Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jered Gonzalez and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Elizabeth Swecker, both assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), help deliver Christmas presents to a Salvation Army warehouse. Theodore Roosevelt Sailors donated a total of 225 gifts to the Angel Tree program and helped distribute the presents to underprivileged children. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Rooney)
Chief Master Sgt. Herman Moyer, command chief, 45th Space Wing, and members of the Patrick Air Force Base First Sergeant’s Council are given a certificate of appreciation from Brevard Family Partnership representatives for collecting toys from all the units at the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners for 250 children in the local community that are in foster care or abuse prevention programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Matthew Jurgens)
Santa Claus waves from the passenger seat of an Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft as it pulls into the Children’s Holiday Party Dec. 8, 2012, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. More than 75 volunteers from Beale and the surrounding community provided the event for Airmen and families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel)
Volunteers from Beale’s Enlisted Spouses Club help with crafts during the Children’s Holiday Party at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 8, 2012. More than 75 volunteers from Beale and the surrounding community provided face painting, pictures, crafts and food while the Wheatland High School Band played holiday music throughout the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel)
Musician 1st Class Brian Nefferdorf, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet Far East Edition Brass Band, plays a banjo while performing Christmas songs with students from Ikego Elementary School during a holiday concert. The band’s eight member ensemble performs throughout the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes.)
Communities also help:
Air Force Airman’s Attic volunteers help parents find toys during the 9th annual toy distribution on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Nov. 29, 2012. More than 6,000 toys, collected by donations made throughout the year, were distributed to active-military families in need of assistance during the holidays.
Tara Kuenkel, spouse of an Ellsworth Airman, selects a Christmas tree at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 30, 2012. Ellsworth Airmen, families of deployed Ellsworth personnel and South Dakota National Guardsmen are all eligible to receive a free Christmas tree during the Trees for Troops event. Christmas spirit at Ellsworth was boosted when a semi truck delivered 235 free Christmas trees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ashley J. Woolridge)
And sometimes these service members receive some very “high-level” help:
First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted by Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joel Vazquez as she arrives with a sack full of toys at the Toys for Tots Distribution Center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2012. The Marine Corps is ramping up efforts nationwide in support of its Toys for Tots campaign. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
Since it isn’t Christmas yet, there are no photos of our troops celebrating this Christmas in Afghanistan. But if past Christmases are any guide, they will be providing medical treatment to our troops and the Afghan troops as they did on Christmas Day 2011:
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Russell and U.S. Air Force Capts. Michael Madsen and Leslee Kane provide emergency medical treatment for an Afghan police member on Forward Operating Base Smart in Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011. Russell is the platoon sergeant, and Madsen and Kane are doctors assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Belena Marquez
They will be doing essential duties such as working on combat aircraft, as they did Christmas Day 2011:
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Passaro and Airman 1st Class Jordan Deangelis inspect the wing of an F-16C Fighting Falcon on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011. Passaro and Deangelis are assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht
And, as they have done every Christmas, they will be trying to make Christmas a little more enjoyable at some of the forward operating bases and posts, as they did Christmas Day 2011:
U.S. Army Sgt. Jared Dillon carries a duffel bag full of cookies, candy and personal hygiene products for the soldiers deployed to Forward Operating Base Pacemaker, Dec. 25, 2011. Dillon is assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s Personal Security Detachment. Throughout the day, soldiers from the unit traveled to five different forward operating bases to deliver gifts and holiday cheer. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
Please remember our troops during this holiday season.
All photos and captions, unless noted otherwise, courtesy DoD